The learning is to 'back off' and let players relax - Anil Kumble

Anil Kumble's coaching career will resume with Kings XI Punjab Getty Images

Anil Kumble, former India coach and newly-appointed Kings XI coach and director of cricket, said that he has learnt to "back off" and not focus on the result.

Kumble, who has also mentored Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians in the IPL in the past, believed that building a relaxed team environment would result in improved performances on the field. He coached the Indian team from mid-2016 to mid-2017, resigning after the Champions Trophy 2017 after his partnership with captain Virat Kohli became "untenable".

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"It is all about a game of cricket at the end of it," Kumble told PTI at a Kings XI event in Delhi. "If you simplify like that, the job becomes a lot easier. The moment you start putting importance to result, wins, trophies then it puts more pressure on the players. So the learning is just to back off and help the players relax, and when they are relaxed they tend to perform better."

Kumble, the only Indian coach in the IPL, drew confidence from his previous IPL stints, including winning the league with Mumbai Indians as their mentor in 2013 and 2015. He had also captained Royal Challengers Bangalore to the IPL final in 2009, and to a third-place finish in 2010, before being appointed as mentor by the same team in 2011.

"With RCB we did not win the title but we came close a couple of times," he said. "With Mumbai, we had wonderful success those three years I was there. It is nice to have the experience of crossing the line. It certainly helps (you as a coach)."

In September, ESPNcricinfo had reported that Ashwin was on the verge of moving out of Kings XI and joining Delhi Capitals, but the deal hasn't been sealed yet. Kumble was coy about the trade, saying: "Ashwin had a wonderful two years but of course we did not get the right results but we have not made any decision who the captain will be."

Kings XI had started strongly in their previous two IPL seasons, when Ashwin was in charge, but their form tailed off in the second half and they eventually missed out on making the knockouts in both 2018 and 2019. Kumble called for a greater consistency if the team was to make the final four.

"The team has not won an IPL title as of yet, so that is our main goal," he told the Kings XI Punjab website. "In terms of the biggest challenge, we have seen in the recent past that the start has been good for Kings XI but after a couple of losses, the momentum shifts. We have been close to qualifying but we miss out by small margins. So it's important to keep the momentum over 14 games and have a sustained performance for the team to make it to the last four, where it's anybody's game."